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Morse provided the force when UH was last perfect


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POSTED: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When you tire of surfing the 'net, fish the 'fiche. I'd forgotten how fun it is to read old newspapers on library microfiche. There's a big wide world of things out there that happened before the 1990s—with no popover ads or balky servers.

There is the same problem of focus, however. I had to remind myself to read about the Fighting Deans, not Dizzy Dean. Skip that story on the start of the Lindbergh trial, we need the 411 on Otto “;Proc”; Klum. Once settled down, it didn't take long to find what I'd come in search of:

Perfection.

UH Rainbows 14, Cal Bears 0.

Hawaii 6-0.

Sorry kids, as thrilling as that BCS-buster was, 12-1 was not “;The Perfect Season.”; The last one of those for UH was 1934.

The Deans did what the Warriors did not: They finished.

Yeah, different eras, different games. But wait one before you go you-know-where ... can you really say with any knowledge that Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern were foes more worthy than the McKinley Alums and the Town Team?

IF YOU think we're over the top when UH wins, check out the prose of Loui Leong Hop, who wrote the Star-Bulletin's lead story (one of about 10 articles related to the game) when UH upset Cal on Jan. 1, 1935.

By their deeds, yesterday, we know the members of the University of Hawaii football squad, know them as the new and better “;wonder team”; representatives, indeed a group of players worthy of real national recognition and prestige, know them as athletes who deliver in a pinch.

Well, word! I guess ... missed that game. Was busy waiting another 26 years to be born.

I did know one of the key players, a little. Now I can only read of his deeds, and those of his teammates.

But I met him once.

WHEN THINKING of Tony Morse, I remember a Skippa Diaz handshake. Thankfully, this was in the pre-manhug days because Morse looked like he could unintentionally squeeze the life out of me.

It was his induction to the UH Sports Circle of Honor, 1987. Morse, 72, fidgeted like a 4-year-old in church.

“;He's just nervous,”; said Eddie Inouye, the UH sports information director. “;He doesn't like to speak to groups.”;

We chatted a bit, he relaxed some and smiled. He crushed my hand again. I left thinking, yes, this big strong man could've played with today's players.

MORSE WAS a blocking back, playing with Buster Piltz, Jack Johnson. This 1934 backfield was so loaded, Morse started ahead of Tommy Kaulukukui (who was a year away from his run to fame).

Maikai Gonsalves and William Ahuna scored the TDs that day. Center Hank Kusonoki got props from Loui Leong Hop for his trench warfare, Johnson for his leadership. Sparse mention of Morse (four totes, 16 yards, one catch, six) in the thousands of words of type.

Dick Furtado, Tommy Kaulukukui and Tony Morse handled the ball to advantage for the Deans and deserve no end of praise.

Morse didn't like dealing with a crowd of 30 at a luncheon. But he knew what to do in front of 18,536 at Honolulu Stadium. He blew up every Cal defender in front of him, he kept the Bears' All-American halfback Arleigh Williams in hibernation.

As a lead blocker out of the backfield, Morse was to the Rainbows what Joe Onosai was to Pac-Five nearly 50 years later.

Tony Morse was a finisher. We know this mostly because we are told so by people we trust.

And because at age 72 he nearly broke my hand.


Dave Reardon is the Star-Bulletin's sports columnist. We reveal five more UH greats tomorrow. See starbulletin.com for more on “;The Centurions.”;